Campaign for Uyghurs (CFU), an Uyghur advocacy group based in the U.S., has welcomed the recently released U.S. State Department’s report Human Rights Practices for the year 2020. This report clearly states that China is committing “genocide and crimes against humanity” against its Muslim Uyghur minority in Western Xinjiang. The report was released yesterday.
In the section “China (Includes Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet)” of the report there are mentions of atrocities by the Chinese Communist Party on minorities in China. It reads, “Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”
The report further reads, “These crimes were continuing and include: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of China’s birth control policies; rape; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; forced labour; and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.”
The report mentioned several examples, including Abdulghafur Hapiz, an Uyghur man detained in a Xinjiang internment camp since 2017. The Chinese government formally confirmed Hapiz’s death to the United Nations in October. The report said that the Chinese government conducted mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim and ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang.
It also talked about the disappearance of four citizen journalists, Chen Qiushi, Li Zehua, Zhang Zhan, and Fang Bin, who had interviewed health-care professionals and citizens and later publicized their accounts on social media in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown in Wuhan.
Senior advisor for the CFU and Honorary Chairman of Uyghur Academy, Dr. Rishat Abbas said, “Uyghurs are greatly encouraged to see this clear messaging to call out the Chinese regime’s crimes for what they are, and to stand firmly on the principles that should be upheld by the United States in particular regarding freedom and respect for the values of humanity.”
Whilst unveiling the report, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that the report shows human rights were going in the ‘wrong direction’ in every region of the world.
“We see it in the genocide being committed against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” he further said
On January 19, 2021, under the Trump administration, the then-Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo had said, “I have determined that the PRC, under the direction and control of the CCP, has committed genocide against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. I believe this genocide is ongoing and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state.”
Sophie Richardson, a China expert at Human Rights Watch said, “Using the term ‘genocide’ in the report indicates profound concern in the administration about appalling Chinese government human rights violations against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and other Turkic communities.”
“The next step is to map out a strategy to back an independent investigation, gather evidence and pursue accountability,” she added.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has rejected accusations that the U.S. is trying to bully China on an international stage. “We’re not trying to, for example, contain China or keep it down. What we are about is standing up for basic principles, basic rights, and a rules-based international order,” he added.